Gown Restoration and Preservation

Remember our article on Preserving your Family Heirlooms, written by our own Betsy Iler, that we published in Issue #124? (Click here to download the PDF article for free!) Reader Joan Kwasiborski came across the article on our website and sent us a great recommendation for the Imperial Gown Restoration Company, which we knew we had to share with you. Joan says:

If you are not already familiar with the Imperial Gown Restoration Company in Fairfax, VA, or if you have never featured them, you might find them of interest. I once called them, and they were kind enough to let me know that their base price (this was a couple of years ago) to clean a gown, unseen, was $450.00. Their webpage was invaluable to me, because of their description of cleaning gowns, which I wanted to know, because I had bought some store models, and some used gowns, for resale. They avoid alkaline detergents, and I do also, prefering to use Shaklee’s Basic-H or Shaklee’s Laundry Detergent, although I have used some spot cleaners on small areas.

These gowns sometimes weigh 10 lbs. even when dry, so I droop them over a large fabric laundry basket in my clean extra bathtub, until most of the water has drained. Then I can droop them over other light weight items, set on top of my bed, even using umbrellas for the expansive petticoats and overskirts, I have a fan over my bed, and that helps circulate the air around them.

Imperial Gown Restoration Company has some very interesting information, they have done restoration for the Smithsonian Institution, and you can read more about their process and recommendations at their site, www.gown.com.

Thanks so much for the information, Joan! She is right — Imperial’s website is full of great information. We included the following list of preservation resources in the original article. Do you know of another great company, resource or tip regarding heirloom preservation and restoration? Please comment below to share your knowledge!

  • Heirloom preservation bags are available at www.affordableproducts.zoovy.com.
  • Heritage Garment Preservation offers supplies, storage boxes and kits. Visit their website at www.heritagegown.com or call 866-268-4696.
  • J. Scheer & Co. specializes in wedding gown preservation and the cleaning of museum textiles and ceremonial costume. Visit their website for more information, www.jscheer.com.
  • Martha Pullen Company carries acid-free heirloom tissue paper and padded hangers. Visit Martha’s online store at store.marthapullen.com.
  • Prestige Preservation Program, LLC, features cleaning, inspection and storage processes. Visit them online at www.prestigepreservation.com or call 888-542-7709.
  • See www.veils-by-roxanne.com for tissue, boxes and kits.
  • Sentinel Archiving, Inc., sells garment bags designed for long-term protection of extra-special garments at www.sentinelarchiving.com
  • The Linen Press LLC provides repair services for heirloom and antique textiles. Go to www.thelinenpressllc.com for more information.
  • The Preservation Station sells a variety of cleaning and storage product options for the care of heirloom garments and other textiles: www.preservesmart.com.
  • University Products offers a wide selection of preservation supplies, including stain removers, silica gel packs to absorb moisture, and non-adhesive labeling tape. See their online store at www.archivalsuppliers.com.
  • Visit Whiteworks at www.white-works.com for articles and information about heirloom garment preservation.
  • Your local department or grocery store carries BIZ, Ivory Snow and other suitable cleaning and storage supplies.

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